Has Your License Plate Been Tracked by SoCal Cops? | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Above the Law

Has Your License Plate Been Tracked by SoCal Cops?

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Tue, Oct 2, 2012 at 7:05 AM

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION BY PETER HOEY FOR LA WEEKLY.
  • Illustration by Peter Hoey for LA Weekly.
If you were surprised to learn from LA Weekly's report in June that police agencies across Southern California -- including the LAPD and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department -- were using license plate readers to track your moves, you weren't alone.

The Wall Street Journal used the piece as "one of the reasons" it decided to create an awesome database of tracked plates that will allow you to find out if you're being followed by cops digitally, a reporter told Weekly contributor Jon Campbell via email.

For real:

Over the weekend the Journal published this cool widget that allows you to enter your plate number and see if cops have been tracking you.

Unfortunately it only applies to Riverside County.

click to enlarge WALL STREET JOURNAL
  • Wall Street Journal

The paper says it used California Public Records Act requests to get the Riverside data from the last two years, which includes a stash of 2 million plates. Read its accompanying report here.

Why should you care? The location info, where you were driving and at what time, is kept by departments for years, even if you've done nothing wrong.

In L.A., the Weekly's Campbell reported, there are "60 are hidden along strategic roadways near potential terrorist targets such as LAX and the Port of Long Beach."

But civil libertarians note that there could come a day when so many license-plate readers exist out there that it will be tantamount to GPS-tracking your every move.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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